Travel Series Prints by The Heads of State

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The Philadelphia based design studio The Heads of State has a great business model for a small creative agency. While they’re primarily focused on doing work for clients, they also use their formidable aesthetic chops to design prints, shirts, and posters and make these available for anyone to buy. Typically featuring iconic structures or scenes from a subject city (the Golden Gate Bridge or the Washington Monument for example), the prints within the Travel Series are bold and full of color while balanced by simple shapes and great textures.

The Travel Series are affordable ($30), will look great in a simple dark wood frame, and will provide strong color on a plain wall. The prints are available for purchase at The Heads of State online store.

 

Izola Maritime Soap Dish

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A couple of years ago I was moving into a place on my own and the girl I was dating wanted to help me do a run to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to buy “essentials.” According to her, one thing that adults have in their bathrooms is a soap dish, presumably filled with some sort of soap. Initially I was hesitant, viewing it as an unnecessary expense, but I soon saw the value in not having a wet bar of soap sliding all over the place.

Check out these elegant but simple ceramic soap dishes from Izola. $20 is a bit of a stretch for a soap dish, but these are small batch, hand-made in NYC, etc. I have one, it holds soap well, and I like seeing the little design everytime I grab my bar of soap. As a bonus, Izola also sells a variety of soaps to go with your new dish.

Craftsman Bottle Opener

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I stumbled across this Craftsman Bottle Opener a few years ago while shopping for hand tools at my local Sears. A simple bottle opener attached to a hefty screwdriver handle, Craftsman has created a device with the perfect blend of chachki and utility. Originally, mine came with a smaller leather loop attached, perfect for hanging the bottle opener from a hook in a kitchen or wood shop.  It should be noted that this bottle opener is “considered a kitchen utensil,” likely meaning that it isn’t covered by the company’s lifetime warranty for hand tools. That said, at a price of $7 it’s a fair tradeoff.

The Craftsman Bottle Opener can be purchased online at Sears.com.

Everlast Leather Weighted Jump Rope

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If you find yourself needing to jump rope these days (more and more workouts and exercise classes are calling for jump roping), find a rope that you like to use  so you don’t have to rely on whatever is available at the gym. This Everlast Leather Weighted Jump Rope looks great, spins smoothly, and the added weight in the handles helps thrash your arms (if you’re into that sort of thing).

If you want to hate your life for an hour, I recommend using this with the “Jump Rope Workout.

Tissot Visodate Automatic Watch

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At a wedding this past summer I heard two fellow Groomsmen talking about the importance of a good watch for a guy. I immediately agreed. It’s not an easy concept to defend; a good watch is typically kind of expensive and considering that every cellphone has a clock, a nice watch seems a bit unnecessary these days. But once you have a watch that you really like and that suits you, the concept makes complete unspeakable sense.

With watches I’m big on leather wrist straps, modest pricing, and simple, clean faces. Enter the Tissot Visodate. It’s not the cheapest ($650.00) but it’s very easy on the eyes and a good price for an automatic watch. For those of us looking for a deal, you can typically find some available on Amazon.com as well.

LL Bean’s Plaid Flannel Shirt

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My friend George used to tell a great story about the caretaker of his family’s farm in South Carolina. At this point I’ve forgotten the caretaker’s name (so we’ll call him Ron) but the story has always stuck with me. Ron was a leathery old timer, he basically lived outdoors, claimed to be of Indian blood, and nearly always had a half finished cigarette drooping from his mouth. George claims that throughout the relatively mild South Carolina winters, Ron would wear the same thing everyday: his red flannel shirt. No jacket or hat, certainly no scarves, just boots, jeans, and the shirt. When it would rain (or on rare occasions, snow) Ron would casually move to the cover of a tree, light a cigarette, grunt, and fold the collar of the flannel shirt up around his neck and get back to about his business.

Yesterday we had a winter storm here and before I set out to run errands I put on a flannel of my own. LL Bean makes a great flannel shirt, but you can find solid ones at places like Orvis too. These are great for cold weather hikes, ski trips, and afternoon pub crawls on snow days.